You can gauge a player’s production in the lineup based on runs batted in and runs scored. You can gauge a fielder’s production based on defensive runs saved. You can gauge a pitcher’s production based on WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning). So, how does the Rangers' front office gauge production?
“We try to be consistent. We have developed some in-house metrics that we believe in,” Matt Vinnola, Rangers director of baseball operations, said on a recent edition of Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We’re kind of proud of the way those things measure ... I don’t want to say non-traditional components, but maybe components that are not readily available in a box score.”
Statistical analysis projects are part of Vinnola's job description. There are many different websites, theories and formulas in this baseball age when it comes to figuring out the method that leads to success. However, the Rangers blend the dry erase board variables with the eyes and gut.
“I would consider us a common sense type of front office. It has to pass the smell test for us to really believe in a metric. We try and use an observational method when we do our study. Put simply, I see us doing this or this seems to be the pattern with our play right now ... statistically, how can we show that’s true?” Vinnola said. “Then, honestly we look to the scouts and the [field] staff and to our advance [scouting] guys, Adam Lewkowicz and Joey Prebynski, to try and help us out on what they see with our club and tie those things together. For me, that’s when statistics is most effective is when you marry it with the scouting and the evaluative abilities of the people who are around the players on a day-to-day basis.”
Vinnola was tight-lipped about the Rangers in-house metrics, but he did discuss one point of emphasis: productive outs. Vinnola also discussed his role since moving to the Rangers from the Colorado Rockies organization, his long-standing relationship with general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine, his role in arbitration and feelings about the arbitration process, projecting the future with or without Josh Hamilton and more. Listen to the podcast.